Self Control in Society, Mind, and Brain (Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience)

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Self Control in Society, Mind, and Brain (Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience)

Self Control in Society, Mind, and Brain OXFORD SERIES IN SOCIAL COGNITION AND SOCIAL NEUROSCIENCE Series Editor Ran

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Self Control in Society, Mind, and Brain


Series Editor Ran R. Hassin Editorial Board Mahzarin Banaji John A. Bargh John Gabrieli David Hamilton Elizabeth A. Phelps Yaacov Trope The New Unconscious

Edited by Ran R. Hassin, James S. Uleman, and John A. Bargh Oxford Handbook of Human Action

Edited by Ezequiel Morsella, John A. Bargh, and Peter M. Gollwitzer Forthcoming Social Neuroscience: Toward Understanding the Underpinnings of the Social Mind

Edited by Alexander Todorov, Susan T. Fiske, and Deborah Prentice Forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Edited by Jean Decety and John T. Cacioppo

Self Control in Society, Mind, and Brain

Edited by Ran R. Hassin Kevin N. Ochsner Yaacov Trope

1 2010

3 Oxford University Press, Inc., publishes works that further Oxford University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education. Oxford New York Auckland Cape Town Dar es Salaam Hong Kong Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi New Delhi Shanghai Taipei Toronto With offices in Argentina Austria Brazil Chile Czech Republic France Greece Guatemala Hungary Italy Japan Poland Portugal Singapore South Korea Switzerland Thailand Turkey Ukraine Vietnam

Copyright © 2010 by Oxford University Press Published by Oxford University Press, Inc. 198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016 Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data CIP data on fi le ISBN 978-0-19-539138-1

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper


How do we—societies and individuals alike—(sometimes) manage to act in line with our high priority goals when we are faced with tempting yet confl icting alternatives? Put differently, how do we (sometimes) resolve a conflict between super ordinate, global goal, and subordinate, local one in favor of the former? Self-control dilemmas of this kind can be found in many contexts and may be described at many levels of analysis. Examples include the dilemmas faced by groups fostering cooperation among group members, when defection is more beneficial for each individual; dieters resisting a tempting cake in order to stay on their diet, and the cognitive system trading off speed for accuracy in conflict tasks like the Stroop. All of the aforementioned dilemmas have a common structure: A goal that is higher in one’s hierarchy conflicts with a lower level goal. Given this goal hierarchy, one of the hallmarks of self control conflicts is that they have a correct, or desired answer. Although one is tempted to eat the cake, the “correct” behavior of a dieter is to refrain from eating it; although the individual is tempted to defect, one knows that the “correct” social behavior is to cooperate; and, lastly, while one is tempted to respond quickly in an incongruent Stroop trial, one knows that the “correct” answer is to name the ink. Self-control success is responding in line with one’s higher order goals, and self-control failure is responding in line with one’s lower order goals. This common structure is the essence of self-control and the theme underlying the present volume on the process of self-control, its antecedents and consequences for individuals and societies. This book represents social, cognitive, and neuroscientific approaches to the question of self-control. Our goal was to bring together multiple perspectives on these kinds of dilemmas, connecting recent work in cognitive, and social psychology with recent advances in cognitive and social neuroscience. The book emphasizes integrative, multi-disciplinary approaches to self-control. It offers a single reference volume comprising contributions from leading researchers within various allied disciplines. The book consists of three sections: the Neural, the Mental, and the Social. The Neural section looks at brain processes that underlie self control attempts and that speak directly to the level of the mental. The Mental is the book’s anchor: it comprises cognitive and social-cognitive contributions, which examine within-individual self-control processes at all levels; from low level attention, to motivation, and motivational systems. The Social section looks at group processes, broadly defined, and examines how groups and societies (attempt to) resolve confl icts between their global goals and the individual’s self interest. We hope that by crossing these disciplinary boundaries within a single volume, the book will promote cross-talk between theoretical and data-driven approaches at various levels of analyses. We




believe that this will help improve our understanding of one of the most crucial aspects of human behavior; our capacity to overcome the influence of local, short-term concerns, and act in line with our long-term, overarching goals. Before you turn the page to begin reading this book, we wish to thank the authors for contributing a set of deep, thorough, and thought provoking chapters. We would also like to thank Catharine Carlin, senior editor at OUP, for her assistance and support throughout this project. Ran Hassin would like to dedicate this book to the memory of Eliahu Hassin, a father, a guide, an inspiration, and a dear friend. Ran R. Hassin Kevin N. Ochsner Yaacov Trope







Anterior Cingulate Cortex Contributions to Cognitive and Emotional Processing: A General Purpose Mechanism for Cognitive Control and Self-Control Marie K. Krug and Cameron S. Carter


Damaged Self, Damaged Control: A Component Process Analysis of the Effects of Frontal Lobe Damage on Human Decision Making Lesley K. Fellows


Working Hard or Hardly Working for those Rose-colored Glasses: Behavioral and Neural Evidence for the Automatic Nature of Unrealistically Positive Self-Perceptions Jennifer S. Beer



Control in the Regulation of Intergroup Bias David M. Amodio and Patricia G. Devine



Integrating Research on Self-Control across Multiple Levels of Analysis: Insights from Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 76 Ethan Kross and Kevin N. Ochsner


Using the Stroop Task to Study Emotion Regulation


Jason Buhle, Tor Wager, and Ed Smith 7.

Motivational Influences on Cognitive Control: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective


Hannah S. Locke and Todd S. Braver 8.

The Common Neural Basis of Exerting Self-Control in Multiple Domains


Jessica R. Cohen and Matthew D. Lieberman vii




Working Memory Capacity: Self-Control Is (in) the Goal James M. Broadway, Thomas S. Redick, and Randall W. Engle



The Dynamic Control of Human Actions Florian Waszak, Anne Springer, and Wolfgang Prinz



Task Switching: Mechanisms Underlying Rigid vs. Flexible Self-Control Nachshon Meiran


Unconscious Influences of Attitudes and Challenges to Self-Control Deborah L. Hall and B. Keith Payne




Self-Control Over Automatic Associations Karen Gonsalkorale, Jeff rey W. Sherman, and Thomas J. Allen


Perish the Forethought: Premeditation Engenders Misperceptions of Personal Control Carey K. Morewedge, Kurt Gray, and Daniel M. Wegner




The Power of Planning: Self-Control by Effective Goal-striving Peter M. Gollwitzer, Caterina Gawrilow, and Gabriele Oettingen



Unpacking the Self-Control Dilemma and Its Modes of Resolution Arie W. Kruglanski and Catalina Kőpetz



Conflict and Control at Different Levels of Self-Regulation Abigail A. Scholer and E. Tory Higgins



Getting Our Act Together: Toward a General Model of Self-Control Eran Magen and James J. Gross



Implicit Control of Stereotype Activation Gordon B. Moskowitz and Peizhong Li



Ego Depletion and the Limited Resource Model of Self-Control Nicole L. Mead, Jessica L. Alquist, and Roy F. Baumeister



Walking the Line between Goals and Temptations: Asymmetric Effects of Counteractive Control


Ayelet Fishbach and Benjamin A. Converse 22.

Seeing the Big Picture: A Construal Level Analysis of Self-Control Kentaro Fujita, Yaacov Trope, and Nira Liberman


From Stimulus Control to Self-Control: Toward an Integrative Understanding of the Processes Underlying Willpower Ethan Kross and Walter Mischel






Self-Control in Groups John M. Levine, Kira M. Alexander, and Thomas Hansen



Justice as Social Self Control Tom R. Tyler



System Justification and the Disruption of Environmental Goal-Setting: A Self-Regulatory Perspective Irina Feygina, Rachel E. Goldsmith, and John T. Jost


Teleological Behaviorism and the Problem of Self-Control



Howard Rachlin Author Index


Subject Index


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Kira M. Alexander

Jessica R. Cohen

University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA

UCLA Los Angeles, CA

Thomas J. Allen

Benjamin Converse

University of California Davis, CA

University of Chicago Chicago, IL

Jessica L. Alquist

Patricia G. Devine

Florida State University Tallahassee, FL

University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI

David M. Amodio

Randall W. Engle

New York University New York, NY

Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA

Roy F. Baumeister

Lesley K. Fellows

Florida State University Tallahassee, FL

McGill University Montréal, Canada

Jennifer S. Beer

Irina Feygina

University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX

New York University New York, NY

Todd S. Braver

Ayelet Fishbach

Washington University St. Louis, MO

University of Chicago Chicago, IL

James M. Broadway

Kentaro Fujita

Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA

Ohio State University Columbus, OH

Jason Buhle

Caterina Gawrilow

Columbia University New York, NY

University of Hamburg Hamburg, Germany

Cameron S. Carter

Rachel E. Goldsmith

Pittsburgh University Pittsburgh, PA

Mt. Sinai School of Medicine New York, NY xi



Peter M. Gollwitzer

John M. Levine

New York University and Universität Konstanz New York, NY

University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA

Karen Gonsalkorale

University of Wisconsin-Stout Menomonie, WI

University of Sydney Sydney, Australia

Kurt Gray Harvard University Cambridge, MA

James J. Gross Stanford University Palo Alto, CA

Peizhong Li

Nira Liberman Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv, Israel

Matthew D. Lieberman UCLA Los Angeles, CA

Hannah S. Locke

Deborah L. Hall

Washington University St. Louis, MO

Duke University Durham, NC

Eran Magen

Thomas Hansen University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA

Ran R. Hassin The Hebrew University Jerusalem, Israel

E. Tory Higgins Columbia University New York, NY

John T. Jost New York University New York, NY

Catalina Kőpetz University of Maryland College Park, MD

Ethan Kross University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI

Marie K. Krug Pittsburgh University Pittsburgh, PA

Arie W. Kruglanski University of Maryland College Park, MD

Stanford University Palo Alto, CA

Nicole L. Mead Florida State University Tallahassee, FL

Nachshon Meiran Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheva, Israel

Walter Mischel Columbia University New York City, NY

Carey K. Morewedge Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA

Gordon B. Moskowitz Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA

Kevin N. Ochsner Columbia University New York, NY

Gabriele Oettingen New York University New York, NY and University of Hamburg Hamburg, Germany



B. Keith Payne

Anne Springer

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany

Wolfgang Prinz Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany

Yaacov Trope

Howard Rachlin

Tom R. Tyler

SUNY Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY

New York University New York, NY

Thomas S. Redick

Tor Wager

New York University New York, NY

Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA

Columbia University New York, NY

Abigail A. Scholer

Florian Waszak

Columbia University New York, NY

Université Paris Descartes Paris, France

Jeffrey W. Sherman

Daniel M. Wegner

University of California Davis, CA

Ed Smith Columbia University New York, NY

Harvard University Cambridge, MA

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CHAP TER 1 Anterior Cingulate Cortex Contributions to Cognitive and Emotional Processing: A General Purpose Mechanism for Cognitive Control and Self-Control Marie K. Krug and Cameron S. Carter


This chapter addresses the topic of self-control from the perspective of conflict theory, a well-studied framework for understanding the behavioral and neural adaptation effects seen during the performance of a selective attention task. We begin with an in-depth explanation of confl ict theory and a review of recent literature in support of this theory. We explain how the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) monitors for processing or response conflict and recruits dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) to resolve these conflicts, increasing attention to goal-related stimuli and adaptively improving behavioral performance. Next, we review alternative theories and explanations of cognitive control and compare them to conflict theory. Finally, we focus on the recent application of conflict theory to the understanding of a wide range of mental processes including emotion regulation and appraisal as well as social cognitive phenomena such as moral reasoning and attitudes, social exclusion, and cognitive dissonance. We conclude that confl ict theory, a mechanistic framework originally designed to account for cognitive control functions related to attention, also shows promise in its ability to elucidate higher-level emotional and social behaviors and their associated neural activity. We propose that this model should be considered in future studies of processes related to self-control. Keywords: Anterior cingulate cortex, attention, cognitive control, cognitive dissonance, conflict adaptation, conflict theory, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, emotional conflict, emotional processing, fMRI, response conflict, social cognition

INTRODUCTION Self-control can be defined as the effortful attempts by a person to change thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to reach long-term interests or goals (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). This chapter focuses on some of the specific

elementary mechanisms of cognitive control, the implementation of which is necessary for successful self-control in many situations. Cognitive control allows us to coordinate or direct lower-level or more automatic processes and ensure that our resulting actions will be in line with our goals (Miller & Cohen, 2001). 3



Cognitive control supports a wide range of cognitive functions from attention and memory retrieval to language production and comprehension. Through cognitive control mechanisms, these processes are managed so that self-control can be attained and, subsequently, goals can be reached. This chapter particularly focuses on the role of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the cognitive control processes that are needed to resolve conflict between automatic and goaldirected actions or responses. Recent computational and neuro-imaging findings have suggested that rather than contributing directly to control, the ACC monitors for processing or response conflicts, recruiting control systems, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), when conflict levels are high and more control is needed to maintain performance. We discuss this theory in detail and review the recent cognitive neuroscience literature related to this topic. We also review alternative theories of the contributions of the ACC to cognitive control and contrast them with conflict theory. Finally, we address the range and scope of conflict monitoring functions that may be supported by the ACC, including the contribution of this region to emotional processing and social cognition. Although the cognitive control literature provides evidence that the ACC and DLPFC detect and resolve conflict that occurs at the response level (or earlier), the application of this theory in studies of emotion and social cognition suggest that these lower-level cognitive control mechanisms form the basis of the higher-level behaviors and decision-making processes that are essential for successful self-control and underlie complex human behaviors.

CONFLICT THEORY Cognitive control is an essential and widely investigated function of the human brain. It forms the basis of higher cognitive functions and can help us to accomplish goals and perform difficult tasks despite interference from distracting or irrelevant stimuli (Miller & Cohen, 2001). Since the beginnings of cognitive neuroscience the neural mechanisms

underlying cognitive control have been the subject of intense investigation. The ACC has featured prominently as a region of the brain whose activity seems strongly correlated with the level of cognitive control demanded during performance. For example, the first positron emission tomography (PET) studies conducted during the 1980s showed that the ACC was active during verb generation, stem completion, free recall, and performance of willed actions such as word generation and finger movements (Petersen et al., 1988; Frith et al., 1991; Grasby et al., 1993; Buckner & Tulving, 1995; Drevets & Raichle, 1998). Pardo et al. (1990) conducted the first study to look at the brain regions activated during performance of the color-word Stroop task, which has often been used to study the behavioral and neural underpinnings of cognitive control. In this task, subjects are required to read a word and name the color ink in which it is printed (Stroop, 1935). Responses are quick and accurate when the ink color and word meaning are the same, such as when the word “red” is written in red ink. However, on incongruent trials the color of the ink and the meaning of the word are not the same, such as when the word “red” is written in blue ink. Performance is slower and less accurate on incongruent trials because of the presence of response conflict. During these types of trials cognitive control is needed to respond with the correct color-naming response as opposed to the incorrect and conflicting automatic word-reading response. Pardo et al. (1990) used PET scanning to contrast brain regions active during correct incongruent trials in comparison to correct congruent trials. The most robust region of activation was the ACC and the authors hypothesized that the ACC is involved in the selection of task-relevant processes (color-naming) despite interference from competing processes (word-reading). Although early neuro-imaging studies (Posner et al., 1988; Pardo et al., 1990) of the ACC suggested a role for this region in cognitive control, with increasing demands for control consistently correlating with increasing activity in this region of the brain (Posner & Petersen, 1990), human electrophysiology was suggesting


a more specific, perhaps less direct role for the ACC in cognitive control. Gehring et al. (1990) and Hohnsbein et al. (1989) described the “error negativity”, a negative deflection of the average event-related potential (ERP) seen in responselocked incorrect trials, that appeared to have a medial frontal, possibly anterior cingulate source (Dehaene et al., 1994). In studies this component appeared related to the behavioral adjustments that have been associated with error commission (Gehring et al., 1993). This led to the hypothesis that the ACC was involved in monitoring and compensating for errors. Elegant in its conceptualization and specification, this theory was difficult to reconcile with activation of the ACC during correct responding which was so widely observed during neuro-imaging studies. An early event-related fMRI study suggested that the ACC may have a different role in cognitive control that could account both for ACC activity found during correct incongruent trials and for ACC activity following errors (Carter et al., 1998). In this study, subjects performed the Continuous Performance Test (AX-CPT) under conditions that elicited high error rates or induced high levels of response confl ict. Results showed that an identical region of the ACC responded to incorrect trials and to correct trials with response confl ict. In other words, the ACC was activated during error trials and during trials where an incorrect automatic response was overcome in favor of responding correctly. Carter et al. (1998) suggested a novel hypothesis, namely that errors were a unique instance of response conflict. The occurrence of conflict during correct incongruent trials on a task such as the Stroop is quite intuitive. For example, when the word “red” is presented in blue ink, the incorrect response “red” becomes active because of the automaticity of word reading, along with the correct color-naming response “blue” through effortful attention to the task-relevant dimension of the stimulus. When a correct response is made, the incorrect “red” response does not reach threshold. However, prior to making the correct “blue” response, both responses are activated simultaneously, creating response conflict (Fig. 1–1a). During errors, the



Figure 1–1a. During correct incongruent trials, conflict occurs when both responses are simultaneously active prior to responding with the correct color-naming (“blue”) response. See also figure in color insert.




Figure 1–1b. During error trials, the incorrect word-reading response quickly surpasses the response threshold. Conflict occurs after the incorrect response has been made because of later processing of the correct color-naming response. Red curve = “red” response Blue curve = “blue” response Black line = response threshold

See also figure in color insert.

automatic “red” response surpasses the response threshold and an error is committed. However, even as the incorrect response is executed the correct response is also activated as a result of ongoing stimulus evaluation. This co-activation of the incorrect and correct response during and also immediately after error commission is an instance of response conflict and leads to ACC activation on error trials (Fig. 1–1b). According to this theory, during correct high conflict trials and error trials, the ACC detects response conflict and contributes indirectly to cognitive control by signaling the need to be more strongly




engaged to maintain performance during future incongruent trials and to avoid further errors. Results from later ERP studies have also supported this theory. According to conflict theory, both incorrect responses and correct incongruent responses are associated with high levels of conflict and dorsal ACC activity (Carter et al., 1998; Botvinick et al., 2001). However, the timing of ACC activation for these two different types of events would differ. For errors, ACC activity should peak after the response has been made, although on correct high conflict trials the ACC conflict monitor should be activated prior to response (see Fig. 1–1) (Gratton et al., 1988; Botvinick et al., 2001). Van Veen and Carter (2002b) measured ERP during performance of the Eriksen Flanker Task. They found a negative peak after error commission that had previously been termed the error-related negativity (ERN) and is typically found following errors (Gehring et al., 1993; Falkenstein et al., 2000). They also found a negativity 340 to 380 milliseconds after trial onset (called the N2) that was enhanced for correct incongruent trials. Source localization showed that both the N2 and the ERN could be attributed to the same ACC source region (Fig. 1–2). This implies that conflict theory can accurately account for the timing of dorsal ACC activity associated with both high conflict correct trials and errors (van Veen & Carter 2002a; van Veen & Carter 2002b). To further test and refine this hypothesis, Botvinick et al. (1999) designed an fMRI study to specifically determine whether the ACC was involved in selection-for-action, response conflict monitoring, or both functions. Subjects performed a Flanker Task in which they indicated which direction a center arrow surrounded by “flankers” was pointing. On compatible trials, all arrows were pointing in the same direction (Example: